Constellation Brands hires cannabis lead

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With Daniel Lippman

CORONA PARENT COMPANY HIRES NEW CANNABIS LEAD: Constellation Brands, the company behind alcohol brands like Corona, Modelo, SVEDKA and Robert Mondavi, has hired Liz Lopez as vice president of public affairs. She most recently served as in-house counsel and senior director of economic development at YWCA USA and is a founding member of the Diversity in Government Relations Coalition.

— Lopez will represent the company’s interests at the international, federal, and state levels on all aspects of the business, and will serve as the lead in government relations issues related to cannabis policy, according to the company. Constellation owns a nearly 39 percent stake in major Canadian cannabis firm Canopy Growth, and has lobbied on the issue through Invariant since the end of 2017, disclosure filings show.

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— Major alcohol and tobacco firms have increasingly become players investing in the marijuana industry, and Constellation is one of a slew of members across a variety of industries in the Coalition for Cannabis Policy, Education, and Regulation. The coalition launched last year with the aim of influencing federal cannabis regulations when — not if — marijuana is legalized. That coalition retained Forbes Tate Partners in June, whom it paid $20,000, disclosures show.

FLYING IN: College to Congress held a virtual fly-in this week to press lawmakers on efforts to pay congressional interns, streamline training and onboarding, and implement recommendations from the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. Founder Audrey Henson, interim CEO and former Rep. Dennis Ross and The Vogel Group’s Brian Johnson met with Reps. Brian Mast (R-Fla.), Beth Van Duyne (R-Texas), and Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.), as well as staff from Reps. Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa), Stephanie Bice (R-Okla.), and Nancy Mace (R-S.C.). College to Congress board members met with Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.), Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) and Reps. Tony Gonzales (R-Ohio), Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), and Dave Joyce (R-Ohio).

Good afternoon and welcome to PI. Shoot me your K Street tips, gossip and musings: [email protected]. And be sure to follow me on Twitter: @caitlinoprysko.

NEW BUSINESS: Adolfo Salume, a Salvadoran flour magnate and politician who’s been ensnared in U.S. efforts to fight corruption in so-called Northern Triangle countries, is turning to K Street in an attempt to have his sanctions lifted. Salume was named earlier this month on a list of “corrupt and undemocratic actors” in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras by the State Department, the result of an effort spearheaded by former House Foreign Affairs Chair Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.).

— His appearance on the list means that Salume is barred from entering the U.S. or from obtaining a visa to visit the U.S. So about two weeks ago Salume hired Capitol City Group’s Gerry Harrington to “lobby members of Congress, State Department, other federal agencies and the White House to address and remove sanctions placed by the State Department” on Salume, according to newly filed lobbying disclosures. Salume, according to the State Department, “engaged in significant corruption and undermined democratic processes and institutions by bribing a Supreme Court Magistrate to avoid paying a fine.” Further details of the corruption allegations are unclear, but Salume was named in the 2016 Panama Papers, and a report in El Faro found that Salume had used shell companies to evade thousands in taxes.

THINK TANKS’ TIES TO BIG OIL IN THE SPOTLIGHT AFTER EXXON STING: Industry experts and congressional investigators are probing the oil and gas industry’s ties to Washington think tanks following the release of secretly recorded comments by Exxon lobbyist Keith McCoy touting his company’s connections with beneficiaries of its money. “Exxon is one of several oil and gas companies that belong to an exclusive club at Brookings [Institute] that promises top donors access to the think tank’s leadership and scholars, and CSIS solicits similar entrée to its ‘corporate partners,’” E&E News Corbin Hiar reports.

— “Rep. Ro Khanna, the chairman of the House Oversight Subcommittee on Environment, is planning to look into Exxon’s ties to think tanks during a broader probe into fossil fuel industry misinformation efforts. ‘That’s exactly part of the investigation that our committee is launching,’ the California Democrat told E&E News shortly before he invited Exxon’s lobbyist in for a transcribed interview with Oversight staffers. ‘It would be wrong to impugn a think tank like Brookings just on the basis of one sting operation,’ Khanna added. ‘That said, it raises troubling allegations, and we have to get to the bottom of it. And I think that what McCoy would say under oath probably has much more credibility than what McCoy was saying on the phone conversation.’ Exxon’s senior director for federal affairs told the Greenpeace official that the company relies on think tanks to help steer climate policy discussions in Washington.”

K STREET STRUGGLING TO LURE DEMS FROM THE HILL: The level of demand on K Street for Democratic Hill staffers has skyrocketed this year, far outstripping supply to an extent surprising “even veteran observers of the revolving door,” Roll Call’s Kate Ackley reports. “The demand for Democrats on K Street is as high as I’ve ever seen in the 25 years I have placed lobbyists, especially in issue areas like health care,” lobbying headhunter Ivan Adler told Ackley. “Every shop is busy, and the supply of folks to help is not there.”

— “Democratic Hill aides are reluctant to leave, even for bigger paychecks, given that their party controls the House, Senate and executive branch. They have that rare opportunity to help craft once-in-a-generation legislative packages and, potentially, to help shape public policy for decades to come. ‘Democrats on the Hill want to stay there and help make change,’ Adler said.” It doesn’t help that “some congressional staff members have their eyes on jobs in the Biden administration, where a recent history as a lobbyist can be a deal-breaker.”

— “Democratic lobbyist Cristina Antelo, who runs the bipartisan shop Ferox Strategies, said her firm’s main challenge right now is staffing up. ‘It’s a great problem to have,’ she said, noting that the shop had already added four new lobbyists this year.” Subject Matter’s Steve Elmendorf, a former Democratic leadership aide, noted that “people in the government are reluctant to leave,” partially because “Democrats like government. They like doing things, so the mindset of a Democratic congressional staffer, particularly in the Senate, where they just got the majority, is you’re less likely to leave.”

WHAT THE CHAMBER AND BUSINESS ROUNDTABLE WERE TELLING BIF NEGOTIATORS: “As Democrats and Republicans in Congress squabbled over blowing past the deadline on an infrastructure agreement, the business and labor communities were getting tired of the partisan fighting,” TIME’s Alana Abramson reports. “Their leaders, who span both sides of the aisle and who had poured tens of millions of dollars into lobbying on this issue, just wanted a resolution, convinced that an investment of over $500 billion in new spending to improve the country’s broadband, transit systems and drinking water will be crucial to rebuilding a post-pandemic economy.”

— “Our messages have not wavered in the sense [of] ‘keep fighting through, keep working through the differences. And we believe the benefits of getting the bipartisan package outweigh some of the short term pain,’” Ed Mortimer, vice president of transportation infrastructure at U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told the outlet. When the business and labor communities coalesced to back the bipartisan framework, “I think it demonstrated to the parties who were engaged that there was real strong organized support out there for doing the right thing, and that they should keep at it,” according to Matt Sonnesyn, vice president of infrastructure policy at the Business Roundtable.

GAO FINDS INCONSISTENCIES IN CHINA TARIFF EXEMPTIONS: “The U.S. government ‘lacks reasonable assurance’ that it implemented exemptions to tariffs on goods made in China in a consistent manner because trade officials failed to sufficiently document their process for granting the exclusions,” POLITICO’s Steven Overly reports. A report Wednesday from the Government Accountability Office “concludes that USTR stands to lose institutional knowledge if it does not better document its procedures and urged the agency to begin doing so if it resumes exemptions,” which were suspended toward the end of the Trump administration and have not been restarted.

— A total of 53,000 exemption requests were filed between 2018 and 2020. The tariffs set off a flurry of action on K Street as businesses and industries large and small enlisted lobbyists to to try and get the levies lifted altogether or, in this case, to avoid paying a 25 percent tariff on products and components manufactured in China. “Industry groups and lawmakers alike complained that the process was opaque, making it at times uncertain why USTR rejected some requests and granted others. Ultimately, USTR rejected roughly 46,000 of those requests, in most cases because companies did not adequately prove the tariffs would cause economic harm. Others were denied because companies failed to prove the product in question could only be purchased from China.”

HOW WAYNE AND SUSAN LaPIERRE DISCREETLY SHIPPED HUNTING TROPHIES HOME: Records obtained by The Trace and The New Yorker’s Mike Spies show how the National Rifle Association’s chief executive Wayne LaPierre and his wife, Susan, “leveraged the LaPierres’ status to secretly ship animal trophies from their safari to the U.S., where the couple received free taxidermy work. New York Attorney General Letitia James, who has regulatory authority over the N.R.A., is currently seeking to dissolve the nonprofit for a range of alleged abuses, including a disregard for internal controls designed to prevent self-dealing and corruption by its executives.”

— “In a complaint filed last August, James’s office asserted that trophy fees and taxidermy work ‘constituted private benefits and gifts in excess of authorized amounts pursuant to NRA policy to LaPierre and his wife.’ The new records appear to confirm those allegations. The N.R.A.’s rules explicitly state that gifts from contractors cannot exceed two hundred and fifty dollars. The shipping and taxidermy of the Botswana trophies cost thousands, and provided no benefit to the N.R.A.—only to the LaPierres.”

Jobs Report

Emily Coyle is joining SAP as senior director of U.S. government affairs and head of U.S. cybersecurity and privacy policy working on the infrastructure bill, strategic investments in data infrastructure and improving the nation’s cyber posture. She was most recently director of the office of public policy at Ernst & Young and is a National Association of Insurance Commissioners and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) alum.

Bryan Wood is now a director on the global public policy team at BlackRock. He most recently was senior policy adviser and counsel for the SEC.

Grant Thomas is now director of health strategy and coordination for Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. He most recently was director of state government relations for the University of Georgia.

Alexis Weiss is joining Walmart as director of technology communications, heading communications for the U.S. tech and core services: retail and emerging technology organizations and based in San Francisco. She most recently was senior vice president for corporate and reputation at Edelman, and is an NBC and CNN alum.

David Colberg is now vice president of global government affairs and public policy at Alteryx. He most recently was senior director of government affairs at Palo Alto Networks.

Curtis Kincaid is joining the Blockchain Association as director of communications. He previously held strategic communications roles with the Consumer Technology Association.

SPOTTED at a book party Wednesday night for former SoftBank and Time Warner communications chief Gary Ginsberg‘s new book “First Friends” hosted by Tom Nides, Biden’s nominee to be ambassador to Israel, and Virginia Moseley, per a PI tipster: Steve Elmendorf of Subject Matter, Patti Solis Doyle of Brunswick Group, Amazon‘s Virginia Boney, Jeremy Bash of Beacon Global Strategies, Ziad Ojakli and Sheridan Strategies’ Devon Spurgeon, Lee Satterfield and Patrick Steel, Heather Podesta of Invariant, Charlie Rivkin of the Motion Picture Association and Carol Melton of Adeft Capital.

New Joint Fundraisers

Groundwork Project and NDRC Fund (Groundwork Project PAC, National Democratic Redistricting Committee)

New PACs

Liftoff PAC (Leadership PAC: Mark Kelly)
PROTECTING AMERICANS PROJECT ACTION FUND (Hybrid PAC)
Tilt Blue (Super PAC)
We Want Trump (PAC)

New Lobbying Registrations

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld: Americans For Democracy
Capitol City Group, Ltd.: Adolfo Salume Artinano
Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP: Bioflyte, Inc.
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP: Network Communications International Corp.
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP: Viakoo Inc.
The Vogel Group: Accuity
The Vogel Group: Americas Styrenics
The Vogel Group: Arrl, The National Trade Association For Amateur Radio
The Vogel Group: Community Restoration Alliance
The Vogel Group: Enterprise Communications Advocacy Coalition
The Vogel Group: International Association Of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, And Transportation Workers
The Vogel Group: Las Vegas Sands Corporation
The Vogel Group: Mason Contractors Association Of America
The Vogel Group: National Real Estate Investors Association
The Vogel Group: Pike
The Vogel Group: Plastics Industry Association
The Vogel Group: Seller Finance Coalition (Sfc)
The Vogel Group: Sp Capital Management, LLC
The Vogel Group: Stillwater Solutions 23, LLC Dba National Child Id Program
The Vogel Group: The Doctors Company

NEW LOBBYING TERMINATIONS

None.

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